CHESTER, N.H. | Leslie Leahy has been hired as the new principal at Chester Academy, Superintendent Victor Petzy announced Friday.

Leahy, an assistant principal at Timberlane Regional Middle School for the past five years, will start July 1 if the School Board approves her hiring. The board is expected to vote June 6 on Leahy.

"We think she's the best candidate for the job," Petzy said. "She has a lot of experience and has a good curriculum background."

The search for a new principal at Chester Academy began in April after former Principal Anthony Silva resigned in the wake of allegations that he was having an affair with Curriculum Coordinator Deborah Farrington. The School Board formulated a list of more than 25 applicants and narrowed the list to just two candidates in the last week before deciding on Leahy as its top choice.

"There was a lot of discussion about the two candidates," Petzy said. "But the feeling is she will be a better fit for Chester Academy."

In the end, the School Board felt Leahy's experience in education made her standout among the other candidates.

"That was a big plus," Petzy said. "That made a difference."

Leahy has been at Timberlane Regional Middle School for the past seven years. Before becoming assistant principal, she served as the school's curriculum coordinator for two years. Prior to her tenure at Timberlane, she taught in the Raymond School District.

Chester Academy is the town's only public school, serving 680 students from kindergarten though eighth grade.

Timberlane Middle School Principal Mike Hogan said he thinks Leahy's experience working with both middle and elementary school children makes her a good fit for the job.

"She is ready for that next challenge," Hogan said. "It will be a natural next step for her."

Marilyn Hutnick, one of the other assistant principals at Timberlane Middle School, agreed that Leahy is up to the task.

"She's the right person for the job," Hutnick said. "She will move the building forward in a positive manner."

Petzy is just happy to have some measure of stability in the district, with an official principal to handle many of the upcoming projects the school has planned.

Silva resigned in March after Farrington's husband filed for divorce, claiming that his wife was having an affair with the principal. Farrington, who had been out on paid leave since that time, resigned last month.

Since Silva's resignation, Richard Fugere, a veteran area school administrator, had been serving as the interim principal. He will step down from the position when Leahy comes on board next month.

Leahy could not be reached for comment Friday.

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